06 November 2009

Texas man executed yesterday - because the Bible said so

Yesterday, the state of Texas executed convicted murderer Khristian Oliver. The case had gained some notoriety because the jurors had allegedly consulted the Bible to justify the death sentence.

A passage that was allegedly read aloud by a juror:
"And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death."
Case closed.

So much for the separation of church and state.

Amnesty International had called on the Texas authorities to commute Oliver's death sentence. Amnesty noted that the jurors' use of the Bible during their sentencing deliberations raises serious questions about their impartiality. In fact, a U.S. federal appeals court acknowledged last year that this use of the Bible amounted to an "external influence" prohibited under the U.S. Constitution, but it upheld the death sentence nonetheless.

If that's not disturbing enough for you, Amnesty uncovered more incriminating evidence against the jury:
In 2002, a Danish journalist interviewed [one of the jurors]. The latter said that "about 80 percent" of the jurors had "brought scripture into the deliberation," and that the jurors had consulted the Bible "long before we ever reached a verdict."

He told the journalist he believed "the Bible is truth from page 1 to the last page," and that if civil law and biblical law were in conflict, the latter should prevail. He said that if he had been told he could not consult the Bible, "I would have left the courtroom."
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

So apparently Texas is a functional theocracy. And the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't care to do anything about it.

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